Hail Storms Damage Thousands Of Acres Of NM Crops

POSTED: 08:01 AM MDT May 09, 2012    UPDATED: 08:31 AM MDT May 09, 2012 
HATCH, N.M. -

Tuesday's heavy rainstorms were a welcome sight for many throughout New Mexico, but residents didn't expect the torrents of pea-sized hail that came with them.

Farmers in Hatch were hit pretty hard as thousands of acres of crops in the area were damaged by the hail. Elephant Butte Irrigation officials told ABC-7 the hail storms were widespread throughout the southern part of the state.

Terry Adams is one of the owners of Adams Produce Incorporated. She said they have farms spread out in different towns in order to avoid them all getting damaged when a storm hits, but that didn't help this week.

"Every farm that we have had hail yesterday. We've never seen that before," Adams said. "My son said there were about 6 inches of hail on top of our chili out there, so it was pretty much buried in ice."

Many crops, like onions, were just weeks away from being harvested, so they were damaged the most. Adams told ABC-7 mature onions could have their growth stunted by this damage, and it could be a total loss in some cases.

Farmers said losing those crops at this point would be devastating.

"The blood, the sweat and the tears of these farmers, and to have their crop about three weeks from being harvested and see it wiped out in less than 45 minutes, it's not easy to recover from something like this," said EBID spokesman Gary Esslinger.

Esslinger said it will take a few days for farmers to assess the damages and really know how much of their crops are lost. For crops in the early stages of development like chili, farmers said it could take months to see how they were affected by the hail.

"Only time will tell us how much damage is out there and how we can recover from it," Adams said.

Esslinger estimates the damages could amount to millions of dollars.

"Being up there yesterday, witnessing the devastation was like a black day in Hatch. It made your stomach turn," Esslinger said.